A Look Back at Lessons Learned from Katrina

September 2, 2015


Zurich NA shares learnings from post-Katrina recovery & how to build resilience in the future.

The business community played a significant role in the immediate relief and recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Ten years later, we’re reminded of the private sector’s continued role in increasing disaster resiliency in the Gulf Region and around the world.

Zurich North America and the Wharton Business School’s Risk Management Center recently released Beyond Katrina: Lessons in Creating Resilient Communities. The white paper outlines flood resilience strategies that have been implemented since the storm hit. Though progress has been made, the paper also points out that our cities may still need to overcome some vulnerability.

To help educate others involved in the resilience-building community, the paper offers first steps and tactics to begin to asses and address at-risk communities. For involved stakeholders, there are several objectives to keep in mind in order to avoid another disaster with Katrina-like destruction:

  • Overcome the extreme weather resilience gap
  • Prioritize flooding as the highest risk (versus wind, in the case of Katrina)
  • Devote more resources to pre-event risk reduction rather than post-event disaster relief
  • Measure resilience to guide an investment strategy
  • Design more effective disaster financing solutions and address the affordability gap.

Building on the advances since Katrina will be critical going forward. The analysis in this paper emphasizes the need for collaboration among governments, businesses, and NGOs to ensure that investments will be effective.

“For those arriving on the ground after Katrina hit, the devastation was beyond anything they had ever seen,” said Mike Foley, CEO of Zurich North America Commercial. “It is our hope that Beyond Katrina will act as a catalyst for the discussion and collaboration necessary at a corporate, policy and community level to improve the current state of resiliency in the United States and abroad.”

Zurich already has a lot of experience in the disaster sphere. Zurich’s Global Flood Resilience Program, developed with humanitarian organizations and Wharton Business School’s Risk Management and Decision Processes Center at the University of Pennsylvania, has directly helped 125,000 people in flood-prone communities in Mexico, Indonesia, Peru, Nepal and Bangladesh. In situations where traditional risk financing solutions are not the best solution, the program brings together flood risk research, community-based programs and risk expertise to offer practical solutions in managing flood risk.

Read the report here, and check out the rest of Zurich’s work to improve communities.